A Review of the Red Sox Offseason

Now that there are less than three weeks until pitchers and catchers report, it seems like an evaluation of our teams’ offseason actions would be in tact. The interesting thing about the Red Sox’s offseason, is that it took a while to get started. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though. 

It’s not like we had a disappointing 2008 season, not advancing to the World Series “isn’t the end of the world” as Manny Ramirez would say. On the other hand, the Yankees had a bit more of a disappointing 2008 season– let’s just say it wasn’t up to their expectations. So they went out and blew spent $20 million more than they should’ve on CC Sabathia. They made a risky investment on AJ Burnett, and they signed Mark Teixeira (this is probably their wisest investment) to an eight year deal. 
money.jpg
With all of these investments, the Yankees have spent roughly $422.5 million dollars. As far as I know, none of these contracts involved “incentives”. Personally, I think incentives are the best type of contracts because you set specific goals for the players to achieve, and if they don’t achieve this goal, then you don’t have to pay them. 
Dustin Pedroia 5.jpg
When the Red Sox signed Pedroia and Youkilis, I really didn’t see much of a need to put incentives in those contracts. First of all, they both finished within the top three for MVP voting, and the last time that happened was 1986. A wise investment? I think so. Plus, both players are products of the Red Sox farm system, and both have mentioned that they love playing in Boston. The Red Sox signed Pedroia for six years, $40 million dollars, and the Yankees signed Sabathia for the same amount of years, but $100 more million dollars than that. Pedroia won the MVP and Sabathia wasn’t even in the top three in the National League.
We all know that Mark Teixeira is good, but I feel like with Kevin Youkilis, I’m not even “settling”. Since I’ve established the legality of comparing Youkilis and Teixeira in one of my recent posts, it is needless to say that we are getting Youkilis for one hell of a bargain. 
I know our starting rotation isn’t the best in the majors, but it’s definitely up there. A lot depends on the durability of Dice-K, if Beckett can bounce back, if Lester can stay consistent, the dancing ability of Wakefield’s knuckleball, and new veterans like Smoltz and Penny.
John Smoltz 2.jpg
At first, I was all for signing Derek Lowe (after AJ went to the Yankees), but what I wasn’t thinking about was the future (ironic right?). If we had gotten Derek Lowe, that would have seriously displaced the abundance of our young pitching talent. Lowe would’ve been an overpriced (14-11 with an ERA over 3.00 is not worth $14 mil or whatever he was demanding) three year investment, where as people like Smoltz and Penny are low risks with potentially high rewards. Plus, they have incentive contracts, my favorite!! 
Clay Buchholz.jpg
This gives our young pitchers even more time to develop and fine tune everything in the minors, and since both Penny and Smoltz’s contracts are one year deals, it will give our young stars the opportunity to start full time next year. 
Takashi Saito 2.jpg
Then there’s the bullpen. In 2008 our bullpen had one of the highest ERAs in the majors, we went out and signed Ramon Ramirez and Takashi Saito. Their statistics speak for themselves, but I have a feeling that the addition of the both of them, plus having Justin Masterson full time, will really solidify our bullpen. Plus, we signed Papelbon to a well deserved deal. 
There is still a possibility for that deal to go long term, but I don’t think it necessarily needs to (and neither does Papelbon). The Red Sox could potentially wait until after the 2009 season to sign him to a long term contract, but there is no one else in the Majors I would rather have right now. 
Not to mention the signings of Josh Bard and Rocco Baldelli. It’s nice that Bard is getting a second chance, but the front office is essentially getting a second chance as well seeing that Theo classified the trade as a “short sighted mistake”. Having a player like Baldelli coming off the bench? Need I say more than that? 
Once you look at all of these signings up close, it seems like it all kind of crept up on you. Just the other day, my math teacher asked me: “Since when did the Red Sox bullpen become so good?”. 
It has been reported that the Red Sox have included a deadline with Varitek’s latest offer. Deadline or no deadline, it doesn’t make a difference. Varitek needs to take this deal if he wants to have a job in 2009. That’s how scary the market is, if he doesn’t take this offer, he might not have a place to play. Yeah, it will be a pretty big pay cut, but a lot of players have taken some major league pay cuts. Jason Varitek, it’s up to you. 
-Elizabeth

16 Comments

Well two things are for sure. Boston had a great offseason and we now have a great bullpen. I hope the offseason ends with Varitex coming back.

Bob, http://bostonsports.mlblogs.com/

You guys have the pitching staff to beat in my eyes in the American League East. I am not so convinced that the New York Yankees did themselves any favors yet with all that money pouring out of the sides of new Yankee Stadium.

But you have a bulk of a rotation that knows what is expected out of them in Boston, and that will carry on far for you in 2009. I still think it will be closer than anyone imagines, but hopefully the runner up doesn’t pace themselves outside of the playoff picture in the end.

Rays Renegade

http://raysrenegade,mlblogs.com

Yeah I’d say Boston will have little to no pressure (than what’s already there) to be in the World Series. Fans want to win but the team does not have to justify all that Yankee money! Gonna be interesting this year for sure.
tom
http://rockymountainway.mlblogs.com

Elizabeth – do the Red Sox rock or what! I LOVE what Theo and all have done in the off-season to shore up any small holes we might have had; once we can bring the Captain back the job will be done and all that will be left is for us to sit back & watch the fun begin!

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Bob: All of these signings are like the icing to the cake, which is made up of the team. The team is the batter of the cake (wow, unintended pun) and Jason Varitek is the water that makes it consistent.

RR: Not to mention the Rays pitching staff either. James Shields, Matt Garza, etc. It all depends on the health, but it’s that way for everyone.

Tommy: You’re absolutely right, even if Boston doesn’t make it to the playoffs, or doesn’t make it far, I think we will still have a great, exciting season. The Yankees, on the other hand, are now expected to go to the WS. We’ll see how that goes… anything can happen in baseball.

Julia: Luckily the captain has a deadline to be coming back so we’ll know sooner rather than later. Then, less just about two weeks!!

-Elizabeth

Wow…your team had an AMAZING offseason!!!
I’m extremely impressed.
http://imbringingdiamondback.mlblogs.com

I think you guys did great this offseason! Just hopefully Tek will get locked up soon. I think you guys are going to be very good this season!!
http://kaybee.mlblogs.com

Its way too soon to review. We still have Sheets, Perez, Pudge, Varitek, Dunn, Manny, Hudson and more!
http://metsmainman.mlblogs.com

Elizabeth,
Your review of the pitching staff is informative and comprehensive. I would like to hear your take on Lester and his potential for next year (where he might be in the starting rotation) and your thoughts on Clay Buckholz. Is Clay still with us? Also, what about Masterson? Your insights are interesting and I enjoy taking the time to read them.

As for the Yankees, money isn’t always the answer, but I’m sure the players appreciate the inflated salaries. Did you see MLB’s Prime Nine on shortstops? If so, what did you think of Alex Rodriguez placing second all time?

Caroline: Even though it wasn’t always in the headlines, it was really impressive what they did.

Kaybee: I know that we will be very competitive! Varitek’s deadline is Saturday, so we’ll know very soon!

Metsman: I know it’s too soon to review the ENTIRE offseason, but I don’t think any of these guys are coming to the Red Sox. That’s the only reason I did this review.

Jacobyluvr: Thank you! I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed stopping by. I will address all of these points in my next post.

-Elizabeth

In defense of my Yanks, I think our pitching staff will be great. As for the pressure to win the WS? There’s always pressure to win the WS with the Yankees. Nothing new there. The ’09 payroll isn’t any higher than last year’s. Let’s play ball!

- http://janeheller.mlblogs.com

Jane,
I have no doubt that your pitching staff will be great. You guys really went out there and did what you needed to do to compensate for a season that didn’t live up to your expectations.
-Elizabeth

Elizabeth-
I think the Red Sox will be amazing next year. Makes me a little worried. I have still not quite forgiven them for breaking my heart two times in three years (2004- Cardinals, 2007- Indians, that one still hurts) and I don’t think could take it again. They managed to get themselves out of my bottom two teams but I might decide to hate them more than the Yankees if they break my heart again. Actually I don’t think that would happen. They would just fall below the White Sox again.
Great blog. Your blogs are always so informative and well researched.
Melissa
http://clemsongirlbaseball.mlblogs.com/

Melissa,
I will always hate the Yankees because of ALL of the heart breaks they’ve caused the Red Sox. Regardless of our team loyalties, we’re still baseball fans, and that’s what counts! Thanks for the kind words as well!!
-Elizabeth

Of all your signings I think that John Smoltz will have the most impact. He can do just about anything a pitcher can do..start..long relief..closer….I also think that ‘Tek is the key to it all. He really knows how to handle your staff , and I would love to see him on the Mets over Schneider. Here’s to an 86 remix…..

http://mikeandhismets.mlblogs.com/

Mike,
I agree with you, but the key here is also John Smoltz’s health. He won’t be available until June anyway.
-Elizabeth

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